The Philippines kills itself by being dishonest

[CNN Philippines]


By Joe America

What is honesty, really?

Honesty is more than truth-telling. It is a kind of glue, a personal ethical commitment, that says we can solve problems better if we deal straight. Interpersonal problems, governmental problems, business problems. They all become corrosive and divisive if they are not approached honestly.

Honesty removes the need for blames and excuses and finger-pointing. It eliminates the crab culture where the unsuccessful pull down the successful out of envy.

The first application of honesty has to be with the self. Then it can be extended to others.

The Philippines is a shambles largely because government workers and people broadly are dishonest with themselves . . . witness the absolute lack of accountability for mistakes everywhere . . . as if Filipinos were Jesus Himself, perfect in every way.

Here’s a tip. They are not. We are not. No one is.

Witness the trolls employed to lie and divide and destroy. The Mocha Uson approach, multiplied, replicated, and spread across the internet.

The most common propaganda approach is to make words up or take them out of context, then put anger behind them to energize the offense, then direct them at a decent person. It’s the crab culture weaponized by the agents of Government. Or other political interests.

You can’t build a nation of integrity on the back of such malicious dishonesty.

The best way to productivity, wealth, and health is to be honest about everything. Set aside the need to be right, or perfect. Set a goal, talk about it honestly, make decisions forthrightly, implement programs without fakery or corruption, and track results BECAUSE WE ARE NOT PERFECT and need to make adjustments forthrightly.

The Philippine Department of Health failed in its COVID19 response because it was dishonest. Leaders dishonestly told senators they were getting more test kits, then did not get them. They assured the public “we are on top of this” when they were not. They hinted that “the curve is flattening” when it was not. The whole program was a lie. A gross failure. A massive effort at finding excuses.

Hypocrisy is dishonest. A senator or police chief can break quarantine but ordinary people are arrested for it? Dishonest.

Corruption rips money away from good uses and puts it into private mansions and luxuries. Dishonest.

The jailing of Senator De Lima? Dishonest.

The entire justice system is in shreds because it is an institution that only exists if it is honest. If it is dishonest, it is not justice. Solicitor General “Quo Warranto” Calida and his hatchet attorneys play dirty politics and dirty justice.

Is the Anti-Terror Law being considered to fight real terror, or for political advantage? If for political advantage, the nation was sold a fake bill. Played for fools. Dishonestly.

So we will see about that one.

But one thing is for sure, until Filipino leaders begin to appreciate the courage and strength of honesty, and actually DO some of the stuff, the nation will suffer as a dilapidated, divided bunch of self-interests in bitter disarray.

It’s been the style for years.

Don’t you tire of it?


54 Responses to “The Philippines kills itself by being dishonest”
  1. Lynde Grande says:

    I am so tired of it. Do you think we have a chance for a real change in the future?

  2. arlene says:

    And the curve is still on the upward swing. When will they ever learn? Where are we going? They have billions in their pockets supposedly for COVID 19 but where is the accountability?

    • I’ve not seen an accounting of where the money went. Most to cash assistance programs, I suppose. I think the lack of crisis leadership is clear. Agency heads don’t work that way, with a crisis goal. They just do more of what they did yesterday and don’t ever change it much. So the matter of acquiring testing kits never got going, never got commitment, leadership, funds, or priority. To this day, I think top levels of government don’t get how to do it. I mean, running things by committee is a horrid waste of urgency.

  3. NHerrera says:

    Below is the PH COV daily cases chart as of June 14.

    The COV cases development probably reflect, at least partly, the dishonest statements versus reality about virus testing and out-of-work OFWs.

    As of Jun2 14, the total PH cases and deaths are 25,930 and 1088, respectively.

  4. NHerrera says:


    I got the following excerpts from nytimes Contributing Opinion Writer, Peter Wehner.

    In his extraordinary 1978 essay “The Power of the Powerless,” which has been brought up with some frequency during the Trump administration, the Czech dissident (and later president) Vaclav Havel famously refers to a greengrocer who puts in his shop window a Marxist slogan — “Workers of the world, unite!” The greengrocer doesn’t believe in the slogan, or the regime, which is built on lies. But he acts like he does, or at least abides the lies in silence. He doesn’t have to accept the lie, according to Havel; he merely needs to live within it. But what happens, Havel asked, if one day the greengrocer, among other things, stops putting up slogans merely to ingratiate himself?

    “In this revolt,” Havel writes, “the greengrocer steps out of living within the lie. He rejects the ritual and breaks the rules of the game. He discovers once more his suppressed identity and dignity. He gives his freedom a concrete significance. His revolt is an attempt to live within the truth.”

    There is a cost to this action, Havel acknowledges, but by doing so the greengrocer “has shattered the world of appearance, the fundamental pillar of the system. He has upset the power structure by tearing apart what holds it together. He has demonstrated that living a lie is living a lie.”


    Earlier I alluded to Plato’s allegory of the cave. In the story, Plato imagines that a prisoner in the cave, who had been chained with the others, escapes to the outer world. Initially he is blinded by the sun but then he adjusts. He can see the beauty of the world, the sky and the stars. Previously he had been looking only at phantoms; now he is nearer to the true nature of being. Even so, Plato asks, “Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?”

  5. During Martial Law, we sometimes laughed at the airbrushed pictures of buildings which contrasted with much shoddier reality. What remains of those days are often just the pictures. Makes it easy for some to fool themselves with nostalgia of “better days”. Sure, reality after the fake paradise was messy but there were improvements many have forgotten now. So is fake perfection preferable to messy reality? The blue pill is more comfortable than the red pill.

    Filipino unforgivingness with mistakes seems like a friar legacy. Of course the liar Calida is a true Inquisitioner like Torquemada. He would burn De Lima, Maria Ressa and Sereno as witches.

    Covid is even more unforgiving. Especially towards bullshit. Only honesty and science defeats it.

    • Bin Tulfo attacking Kakie Pangilinan on women provoking rape by clothing backfired, grandly.

      #HijaAko on Twitter became a veritable MeToo, Filipino version. Many truths revealed.

      • karlgarcia says:

        That recent threat by the dirty old nan was so abusive.
        I read that for now you can get away with online rape threats because it is covered in any law that involves abuse and harrassment.
        Legislationn woukd take time, so how do we stop the abuse?
        Even the abuse I read about Ressa that no one would want to rape her, man that is sick.
        Journos can be sued for libel, what about trolls who act like terrorists.

    • NHerrera says:

      Irineo, from my readings this morning:

      “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that some of the best-run places have been run by women: New Zealand, Germany, Taiwan,” mused Susan Rice, who was national security adviser under President Barack Obama. “And where we’ve seen things go most badly wrong — the U.S., Brazil, Russia, the U.K. — it’s a lot of male ego and bluster.”

      This observation is consistent with the fact that the COV pandemic caused much less deaths per capita in these female-led countries: New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Norway; compared with these male-led countries: Brazil, Iran, UK and US.

      • NHerrera says:

        More, from the source I got the above:

        While women have generally outshone men as international leaders, that does not seem true within the United States. Some female governors have done better, others worse, so there isn’t an obvious gender gap in the US.

        It’s also possible that this isn’t about female leaders but about the kind of country that chooses a woman to lead it.

  6. kasambahay says:

    sen lacson’s terror bill serves only to legalise terror. to be held sans warrant for 14 days and then 10 days more maybe because more time is needed to plant evidence and make it look more convincing!

    terror bill will cause much disruption to family life. with padre de familia on warrantless arrest for nearly a month, how are families supposed to survive without income, pay bills, file tax? children cannot pay tuition on time and may end up truant.

    terror bill is not well thought of: justice delayed is justice denied.

    • kasambahay says:

      sabi in sen lacson he’ll join protesters kuno kung sakaling may mga abuses na naganap ang proposed terror bill niya.

      ay, mali si sen lacson sa palagay ko. dapat, instead of joining protesters for maybe only a minute of his time, lacson ought to give half his pay to the family of those on warrantless arrest so the family have money to live on while their breadwinner is held at kapolisan’s pleasure.

      if sen lacson promised to do this, his terror bill will surely get a nod.

      ping, put your money where your mouth is!

  7. Pablo says:

    It’s not something which has been going on for years, it’s become part of the Philippine Culture. When you go to a shop, you pay at the cashier’s, somebody checks your items when putting it in the bag, then a checker signs the receipt and then finally, the guard checks the receipt before you go out. Nowhere in the world, I am treated like this. When I just blandly refurse to undergo the check again at the guard, everybody gets upset because ‘he is just doing his job’. Nobody seems to even grasp that this amount of suspicion towards ea h other is not normal. In a society where people treat each other like this e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. , is there still rescue possible?
    Are you not getting fed up of it, or do you think this is normal?

    • I go to shops other than Gaisano, which does the triple check. Other mall shops are pretty westernized. My wife handles the local shopping. I love it here, still. I argue for different ways but the authentic culture is the attraction. It is what it is.

      • Pablo says:

        I think you missed the point.
        Your question was: It’s been the style for years. Don’t you tire of it?
        Where you seemed to suggest that the problem has developed over several years and can be solved when Filipino leaders begin to appreciate the courage and strength of honesty.
        I used the example of the shopping as a telltale sign that the problem is much more fundamental. Not only Gaisano does the triple check. Also the local hardware shop, the little car-parts shop, even the machine shop. The Mayor has to sign hundreds of times per day because he cannot trust his department heads… the list goes on endlessly. Distrust is endemic in this society and you conclude rightly that in this society the entire justice system is in shreds, so we have to ask ourselves if this society can indeed “be saved” or is beyond repair and therefore will automatically lose its right for existence.
        Nice that you like to shop, but the questions goes deeper. When an honest politician (does that animal exist?) would be in power for 6 years, could this society change enough to develop trust? Is a turnaround realistic? Desirable: YES, but realistic or possible at all?
        Mind you, most (99%++) of Filipino’s I worked with abroad were 1000% reliable and honest.
        But a society is more, it has an enormous inertia and change is often unlikely.
        Hence, I modified your question to: is there still rescue possible?

        • The Philippine system was originally built by a foreign ruling class to control hostile subjects.

          It just passed to a more and more native ruling class whom also distrust potentially hostile subjects. It is not a recognized social contract, even if the 1987 Constitution tried to be, but without dismantling onerous practical aspects of the old system like letting people rot in jail for years without trial. Thus the fundamental distrust of the people remained. The only difference today is: they elected someone more like them to lead the same old system. That isn’t enough.

        • It’s a long and winding road. I have no idea.

    • NHerrera says:

      Most of these inspections seem to be done for show or so cursory that, unless you are carrying a sledge hammer, these guys will not even notice what is in your things.

      In Makati, if one is walking from one connecting mall to another, you have this routine repeated several times; and you go through it again on the way back. I agree, it can be irritating. 🙂

      • kasambahay says:

        inspections and bag checks, I think of them as policy and not as personal affront. I carry as little encumbrances as possible, a wallet and keys in a small bag is all, also a cap worn on the head so I wont need to carry umbrella. making purchase is done last thing just before going home and so limit myself to less inspection.

        I cannot understand why some personal bag cost an arm and a leg and can fit a microwave oven!

        as well, politicians too find inspections and check annoying and damn right irritating and so, circumvent ways and mean to avoid them, parking millions of public funds where they can barely be traced, in banks and agencies and spending on projects that dont exist.

        • kasambahay says:

          businesses knew that it’s not just dishonest customers that steal, staff steals too and sometimes, more than customers.

          ah, maybe that was why glorietta was bombed? years ago. someone objected strongly to inspection, lol!

          • karlgarcia says:

            Did a politician refused to remove his shoes?

            • kasambahay says:

              wadda yos talking about, karlg? him politiko refusing to remove shoes and being nasty to those overseeing protocol just got appointed very recently to higher position at talagang chief na siya ngayon of one govt agency, courtesy of duterte.

              terror law po yata yan in practis: terrorise others and viola! new job, better paying and higher rank pa. that’s how to get the boss’ love, respect and attention, lol!

              still, hindi pa po ako tapos kay sen lacson and his terrible terrible terror bill. itong proposed warrantless arrest niya is not as generous kuno as those in malaysia, thailand, singapore, etc. mas longer kuno detention duon. well, compared to us, those countries lacson namely and lamely mentioned dont have marawi city, dont have a state put under martial law for 2yrs running, a fast bottoming economy and overly burdened by tax adversed pogos, etc. at lastly they dont have a president that think nothing of freeing rebels and terrorists and inviting them to dinner.

              ping’s terror bill sucks!

              • karlgarcia says:

                Sorry for the misdirection, from SM-Ayala protocols to the airports.

                Now about the Anti-terror act.
                Thank God we still have the best CJ we never had who will challenge it once it is signed or it lapses into law.

  8. NHerrera says:


    The US Supreme Court just boosted the momentum in favor of gay rights with its 6-3 decision prohibiting discrimination based on sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The ruling is a major win for LGBT workers and their allies. A landmark decision coming as it does when the court has grown more conservative with recent SC appointments.

    • NHerrera says:


      A triumph of logical and independent thought — the US SC decision on sexual orientation and gender identity written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, one of two SC Justices appointed by President Trump.

      His ruling was joined not by his usual conservative allies, but by the court’s four liberals and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

  9. Every organization can go down the path of self-deception – government or business. The wrong leaders can lead it there.

    Democracy and a free press are the corrective for governments, competition in a truly free market with anti-trust measures is the corrective for business.

    The Philippines is throwing away these correctives.

  10. chemrock says:

    This blog’s topic of the prevalence of dishonesty in Philippines is underlined by this news headline: Manila Police Dept’s honesty store closes due to dishonesty!

    Many research studies indicate that people with higher levels of altruism gyrate toward a career in public service, especially in poorer countries. As far as Philippines is concerned, just by observation alone, that conclusion is supported.

    Many studies using the ‘dice game paradigm’ tests have shown there is a very strong negative correlation between PSM and dishonesty. PSM is Public Service Motivation, qualitatively measured in values of Commitment to Public Interest, Self-Sacrifice, Compassion and Attraction to Policy Making. Civil servants with a high level of PSM are less prone to cheating, lying and corruption.

    The clue to fix Philippines’ dishonesty problem — (1) elect leaders perceived to have high PSM. (2) HR should employ PSM assessments on civil servants and advancements be guided by their scores.

    Philippines actually has a very good idea in the concept of Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). Youth representatives are elected by popular vote. A governing of 6 youth leaders is responsible for allocating 10% of the Barangay’s budget to Youth projects. The SK is a good training ground for youths desiring a political career. Philippines is the only country in then world to nurture potential political leaders.

    In 2016, the Innovations for Poverty Action, a non-profit research and policy organisation, did an interesting motivation test on a group of such youth leaders. “Overall, these results indicate that small non-financial rewards may be sufficient to nudge good youth citizens to run for office. Additionally, rather than screening politicians after they have taken office, there may be effective ways to screen for individuals with undesirable qualities before they run for or take office.”

    The findings of the project is priceless. But alas, dishonest leaders will pay no attention to it. Quite the reverse, certain quarters want to capture the institution.

    You may want to read this interesting article NUDGING GOOD POLITICIANS IN THE PHILIPPINES.

    • karlgarcia says:

      That honesty store closing because of dishonesty of staff and customers. Isn’t ironic?
      Is trust really not that feasible?

      Temptation and weakness is as old as Adam and Eve and it was never a justificatification to commit a crime.
      Honesty does not also mean admitting or confessing to the crime after the fact after getting caught.

      There are still lots of selfless altruistic public servants out there.
      Screening them?
      Lots of clearances and tests already making one tempted to take shortcuts.

      The health declaration forms in triage areas make somepeople do the Senator Pimentel thing and just fill in no to the covid related questions endangering the whole hospital and the chain reaction that follow

      I do not want to insert the Tulfo-Pangilinan thing, but it still has to do with temptation and integrity.
      If you are weak, you will easily be tempted to be predatory no matter what clothes a would be prey wears.

      • Pablo says:

        Is it not so that trust stimulates people to be honest? The ‘honesty box’ in Denmark, where you pickup the vegetables on the roadside, leave money in the box and take-out your change seems to create a trusting society. But it is part of a whole ‘honest’ system, where you can trust the government to have your back and companies to be fair to you. Hence my question: It is indeed comfortable to live in Philippines, (most of) the people are lovely, but in a system where distrust is all over society, from people amongst themselves (big fences everywhere, need for weapons and armoured security) to government (no explanation needed, I think) to companies (low payment, short term contracts, checks and counterchecks everywhere). Can this society turn around? I worked in a big multinational in Manila for a while and was amazed how honest and hard working the people were there, rotten apples were either turned around or removed silently. The same system which makes the honesty box work in Denmark: Give trust and receive trust as a reward.
        Like Joe stated, a major factor was the accountability which comes with trust and responsibility. But, it worked in a multinational where people already had experience abroad, others were aiming to get a posting abroad and thorough auditing was part of all processes. Could it work in the general population? What are the critical success factors to make it work? How can we help doing this? Yes, get honest politicians. And the circle is round again.

        • karlgarcia says:

          The example given by Chemrock, I think is exactly attempt to have an honesty store like the one in Denmark.
          But unfortunately a staff abused the trust.
          Resulting in the honesty store’s closure.

          Sorry if my comment sounded bitter.

          Thanks for your worldview

          Indeed trust stimulates people to be honest.

          Most of the time people are thankful for being trusted and will do anything not to betray that trust.
          About though auditing, and the processes, as they say: “Trust but verify”

          • German public transport runs on an honesty system of ticketing with plainclothes agents checking at intervals whether people have tickets. Any cheating is immediately fined, usually 60 Euros, and your ID is registered so those who are often caught go to court for estafa.

            The system works as it gives a somewhat painful reminder the first times you are caught and assumes systematic cheating only when you keep doing it – statistically you will get caught many times sooner or later if you are like that.

            The small-time mandurugas are made to toe the line while the energy of real punishment is reserved for the true mandaraya.

          • kasambahay says:

            inspections and bag searches are put in place to make shoppers honest. if I own a shop, I would probly insist of inspection and bag searches too.

            gotta look after the bottom line. got overheads to pay with staff needing bonuses, paid leaves, and the ubiquitous taxes paid to make taxman happy.

            I cannot just put my goods out there with the hope that at the end of the business day, all cash tallied.

        • Chemrock says:

          Honesty begets trust, and trust begets trust.

          The essence of trust – honesty, commitment and integrity.

          Can these values be nurtured? I think not. You either have it or you don’t.

          But these values can be abandoned when one sees the hopelessness of one’s environment. That’s the situation in Philippines.

          • Perception of fairness is what makes people trust enough to follow rules.

            How can people see a system as fair that maximally punishes the poorest wretches or those who make merely technical mistakes like CJ Sereno with her SALNs?

            Such a system teaches cheating or at least cutting corners and a fear of getting caught making minor mistakes but getting maximally punished.

            The most hopeless usually get punished most of the time without any chance of a better life. Those who drown their hopelessness in drugs may see their lives ended just like that.

            While yes, Imelda is sentenced but free. The only thing that has kept rage from spilling over is that many of the honest who no longer hoped could migrate. Will that change with Corona?

            • kasambahay says:

              normal people follow rules, kaso not all people are normal. I remember the actress wynona rider (she has bipolar yata) walking out the shop with a big bag of unpaid goodies! wives of rich politicians walk out the shop with unpaid goodies too, imelda one of them.

              I heard those at rustan once they see madam coming kuno, staff quickly went into action and hid stuff under the counter! madam kasi liked donation and took expensive things without paying.

              sometimes po, medication make people do unusual things like maybe walking out and forgetting to pay for goods! and the richer one is the likely one is scotfree.

  11. NHerrera says:

    Off Topic

    A DUD

    The NY Times review of former NSA Bolton much anticipated book, “The Room Where It Happened,” comes out with essentially this: It is a dud.

    [Filled with minutiae and phraseology better handled by another writer, the reviewer writes.]

    The book was set to publish in mid-March — but the date kept getting pushed back, and eventually there was chatter about whether it would get published at all. (On June 16, the Trump administration filed a lawsuit to try to delay publication again, or otherwise prevent Bolton from profiting on any book sales.)

    • A couple of revelations are not duds though. Like Trump asking China to help him win in upcoming 2020 election.

      • NHerrera says:


        Although if memory does not fail me, I recall that after the Ukraine Affair was revealed for which Trump was impeached, he appeared to reporters on TV calling on China to do the same – to do some investigation on the Bidens. In the book Bolton added a first-person phone call conversation evidence in the form: “Trump practically begging Xi to help him in his reelection …” which seems to indicate to me that Bolton’s evidence must have preceded that TV call.

        Further, its seems to me that Bolton was really interested in selling his book than clearing the record such as during the impeachment. His “toughness” or integrity I believe is diminished by this. I do not know if the statement to have your cake and eat it too applies here.

  12. madlanglupa says:

    Politicians and bureaucrats, being on top of the food chain, promote dishonesty to the extent that the masses are forced to pay for it by complying, thus perpetuating the ugly culture.

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